Four great anthems for the volunteer church choir

It’s really hard to pick music for a volunteer church choir. When I consider a piece of music to put in the hands of my volunteer choir, I evaluate it on three dimensions: Is it smart? Is it pretty? Is it accessible?

The resulting venn-diagram of appropriate music that fits these three categories leaves just a sliver of repertoire at our disposal. Bach cantatas are smart and pretty, but rarely accessible for a volunteer church choir. The hundreds of newly composed anthems published each year are often pretty, almost always accessible, but rarely very smart.

Here are a few that I’ve found to be gems. My choir loved all of these, and have sung them again and again when we need to just relax and sing something we all enjoy. I hope these are useful to you!

1. The Comfortable Words
Text from the book of common prayer (Matthew 211:28 and John 3:16)
Music by Andy Piercy (c) 2015 IQ Music
Arranged by me, here: The Comfortable Words

2. Total Praise – Richard Smallwood
Doreen Rao’s version for choir SATB is good.

3. The Valley of Vision – Kurihara
Text from the Puritan Prayer Book The Valley of Vision
Music by Adam Kurihara (c) 2014

4. Take Courage My Soul (The Storm is Passing Over)
By Charles Albert Tindley
This arrangement by Barbara Baker available from Boosey & Hawkes is decent, though I’d prefer it down a few steps for the tenors!

A new blog adventure: Seedbed’s Worship Design Collective

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Big news!

In just 2 days, the good folks over at are sprouting their latest branch on their tree of blogs – The Worship Design Collective. These sub-sites are hand curated blogs that exist to equip and empower leaders in various areas of ministry: youth ministryfaith and worksoul carechurch planting, and now worship. Judging by other seedbed collectives, the content can range from intensely theoretical and philosophical, such as “A Christian Conception of Markets” (a 12 part series exploring how Christian virtues and Capitalism intersect), from the faith and work collective, to the intensely practical, such as “3 messy summer games you have to try” (which for a youth pastor, is prime click-bait), from the youth ministry collective. And of course they have everything in between. In the vault of the seedbed collectives is great advice that veteran pastors share from their years of experience working through hard topics such as “talking about homosexuality and other big topics with teens,” “teaching children about death,” and “how church planters should handle conflict.” Whatever your ministry area, whether senior pastor or lay ministry leader, there is something encouraging and applicable for you here.

And here’s the cool part – I get to be a part of their newest collective, the Worship Design Collective. I join a team of ~20 other contributors: a community of thought leaders and practitioners — worship leaders, pastors, creative directors, entrepreneurs, songwriters, professors, artists, theologians, and farmers (perhaps both literal and figurative) — committed to networking and encouraging worship leaders with the richness of the Wesleyan theological vision and tradition (though I am not part of the Wesleyan tradition, I have some good friends that are). As one member mentioned on our first conference call, it’s kind of like The Avengers of worship leaders, though instead of saving the world, we just hope to encourage each other in designing and leading worship with excellence in the power of the Word and Holy Spirit – though maybe those goals are more similar than I think.

Even after 4 years of worship leading, I feel like I’m still just a beginner as a worship leader, but I’ve also gained some wisdom along the way, and I’m excited to be able to share my thoughts with a wider audience than just this personal blog. Some folks on the blogging team are way more experienced than I am, so I’m excited to learn from them as well.

If this collective sounds like something you may be interested in being a part of, I’d highly encourage you to check it out. Here’s where you can find us:

Twitter: @worshipdesignco

And here’s a video of Seedbed’s Sower-In-Chief, JD Walt, sharing a bit more about the vision behind the Collective:

So check it out! My future blog posts related to worship will be cross-posted here and there. Be sure to comment/share my posts (not here, but on the Worship Design Collective site) when they come out :-). I heard a rumor that the blogger who gets the most page-views wins a free toaster.